Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, MAT 29, 1905. FIGHTING CONSUMPTION.
At New Plymouth last week Sir Joseph Ward opened an annexe to the local hospital, built largely by public subscription, for the treatment of consumption. This disease is now recognised as the most formidable of all those that modern medical knowledge is called on to fight, though it is at the same time considered to be one of the most easily preventable, if proper precautions are adopted. Science no longer regards consumption as one of the diseases which are transmitted by heredity, all that is passed on from parents to children being the tendency tp contract the disease when thrown into contact with the gerniß of it. The malady is now known to be highly contagious m its nature. The chief source of contagion being the 6putum coughed up by patients suffering from the disease m its pronounced forms. It is obvious, therefore, how great are the dangers of indiscriminate expectoration. The passing of by-laws against such an unwholesome practice is not likely to effect any very marked amount of good. The only way to do that is to educate a sound public opinion on the subject, as this is one of those cases where public recognition of the seriousness of the regulations is the only guarantee of their proving effective. A good deal has been done by the Health Department towards fighting the greatest of modern scourges ; but a great deal more still remains to be done m the same direction. The intelligent co-operation of the public is necessary to assist the Department's efforts, nnd there is no doubt that once that is secured the ravages of the disease will be checked. Sir Joseph Ward stated m his New Plymouth address that 600,000 deaths occurred annually m. England and Wales from consumption alone, while on the continent of Europe over a million sufferers perished every year from the same cause. In 1904 the deaths m New Zealand numbered 799, which is equivalent to nearly 9& for every 10,000 persons living. The total number of deaths from all causes last year m this colony was 8,087, so that tuberculosis m some form accounted for 10 per cent of the total. It has been urgod that the Government ought to establish other sanatoria m addition to the one that already exists at Cambridge; but Sir Joseph Ward does not favour the idea, as people are apt to object to their towns being made the resort of consumptives, being under the apprehension that the healthy members of their community are more liable to contract the disease when tubercular patients are present m numbers among them. However, as remarked above, the principal source of danger arising from the presence of consumptives lies m indiscriminate oxpfictoration, find as adequate provisions are taken inside hospitals to prevent contagion from this source, the apprehension mentioned appears to have little justification. It is clear that a determined effort will have to be made to cope with the disease, and opportunities must be provided or combating it m its early stages when there is the best hope for checking the ravages it works on the sufferer's constitution. The beneficent work accomplished by Nurse Maude at her New Brighton Camp is well and favourably known, and it speaks well for public generosity that this institution is supported solely by voluntary contributions. The scheme outlined by the Health. Department provides for the establishment of sanatoria at Masterton, Naseby, Lawrence, Auckland, Queenstowa, and Dunedin, and this scheme seems decidedly preferable to the other suggestion that one or two large central sanatoria should be established for the reception of patients from all over the colony. It is better that each district should be allowed to deal as far as possible with its own cases than that the sufferers should be collected m one or two places. The approved principles on which the fight against tuberculosis is to be conducted, are to make systematic provision for destroying the sputum of tuberculosis patients, and to see that the patients, especially m the early stages of the disease, have plenty of good food, healthy exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, the first mentioned precaution being recommended for the protection of the healthy, while the second is the one advised by the medical faculty as the most effective means of helping those affected with the disease m their efforts to throw it off. The vital importance of a national straggle against tuberculosis is only just commencing to be understood by the public; but it is gratifying to note that the endeavours of the Health Department and others interested m this subject are meeting with a steadily increasing amount of sympathy and appreciation.